Colorado River (Texas): Wikis


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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Colorado River
Lake Austin portion of the Colorado River, as seen from Mount Bonnell
Country  United States
State  Texas
 - location Dawson County
 - elevation 3,280 ft (1,000 m) [1]
 - coordinates 32°40′47″N 101°43′51″W / 32.67972°N 101.73083°W / 32.67972; -101.73083 [2]
Mouth Matagorda Bay
 - location Gulf of Mexico
 - elevation ft (0 m) [1]
 - coordinates 28°35′41″N 95°58′59″W / 28.59472°N 95.98306°W / 28.59472; -95.98306 [2]
Length 862 mi (1,387 km)
Basin 39,900 sq mi (103,341 km2) [3 ]
Map of the Colorado River and associated watershed

The Colorado River is the 18th longest river in the United States[4] and the longest river with both its source and mouth within Texas;[3 ] however its drainage basin and some of its usually dry tributaries do extend into New Mexico. The 862-mile (1,387 km) long river[4] flows generally southeast from Dawson County through Marble Falls, Austin, Bastrop, Smithville, La Grange, Columbus, Wharton, and Bay City before emptying into the Gulf of Mexico at Matagorda Bay.[3 ]



The Colorado River originates south of Lubbock, Texas, on the Llano Estacado, near Lamesa, Texas. It flows generally southeast, out of the Llano Estacado and through the Texas Hill Country, through several reservoirs including Lake J.B. Thomas, E.V. Spence Reservoir, and Lake O.H. Ivie. The river flows through several more reservoirs before reaching Austin, including Lake Buchanan, Lake Lyndon B. Johnson, and Lake Travis. The Llano River joins the Colorado south of Lake Buchanan. After passing through Austin, the Colorado River continues flowing southeast until emptying into Matagorda Bay on the Gulf of Mexico, near Matagorda.


The Colorado River, which means "colored red"[5], was frequently confused by Spanish explorers with the Brazos River to the north.[3 ] It is this confusion as well as an alleged mapping error that is believed to have led to its misnaming.

The upper Colorado River was controlled by Comanches from the early 1700s to the late 1800s. In 1757, Spanish Texas attempted to establish an outlying mission on the San Saba River, near its confluence with the Colorado River. Nearly defenseless and viewed by the Comanche as a territorial invasion, the mission was sacked in 1758 by about 2,000 Comanches and their allies. The Comanche were not effectively challenged on the upper Colorado River for nearly a century.[6]

River modifications

The river is an important source of water for farming, cities, and electrical power production. Major man-made reservoirs on the river include Lake Buchanan, Inks Lake, Lake LBJ, Lake Marble Falls, Lake Travis, Lake Austin, and Lady Bird Lake in Austin. Collectively, these lakes are known as the Highland Lakes. In addition to power plants operating on each of the major lakes, waters of the Colorado are used for cooling the South Texas Nuclear Project, near Bay City. The Colorado River Municipal Water District owns and operates three reservoirs upstream of the Highland Lakes, Lake J. B. Thomas near Snyder, E. V. Spence Reservoir near Robert Lee, and O. H. Ivie Reservoir near Ballinger.

Flood control and use of the Colorado River is managed by two agencies established by the Texas Legislature, the Upper Colorado River Authority, and the Lower Colorado River Authority. There are 11 major reservoirs along the Colorado River.[7]

The Colorado River also has made many geographic landmarks such as Deep Eddy Pool in Austin, Texas.


  1. ^ a b Google Earth elevation for GNIS coordinates.
  2. ^ a b U.S. Geological Survey Geographical Names Information System: Colorado River
  3. ^ a b c d Clay, Comer; Kleiner, Diana J. (1999-02-15). "Colorado River". The Handbook of Texas Online. The General Libraries at the University of Texas at Austin and the Texas State Historical Association. Retrieved 2006-07-22.  
  4. ^ a b Kammerer, J.C. (1987). Largest Rivers in the United States. United States Geological Survey. Retrieved 2006-07-15.  
  5. ^
  6. ^ Hämäläinen, Pekka (2008). The Comanche Empire. Yale University Press. pp. 58–60. ISBN 978-0-300-12654-9.   Online at Google Books
  7. ^ "River Basin Map of Texas" (JPEG). Bureau of Economic Geology, University of Texas at Austin. 1996. Retrieved 2006-07-15.  

See also

External links

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